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Daily fraud update: 10th October

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Australian Scamwatch figures make for shocking reading

Figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch service have shown that investment scams in the country are well and truly on the rise.

Overall, Australians lost more in 2019 than they did in the previous year.

By the time September of this year came around, they had lost A$48.85m – which is equivalent to around $33m.

This compares to the figure of A$41.97m, which was the case in 2018.

However, the number of complaints was higher last year at 4,864.

This year, the level has been 4,331.

The breakdown of these figures also proved for interesting reading – and suggested that scams which tend to operate over the internet were the second-most popular form of soliciting victims.

This means that those who trade in foreign exchange and cryptocurrencies may well be more vulnerable due to the largely online nature of these assets.

The most popular method of finding people to scam, however, continued to be over the phone.

Alleged crypto thief in Singapore accused of stealing computing power

A man who faces charges relating to crypto fraud has also been accused of using stolen competing power from major cloud providers in order to do so.

Ho Jun Jia is accused of using Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google cloud computing services to mine crypto assets.

Claims made by the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Washington say that he stole the financial data of a person from California, and another from Texas.

He then went ahead and used this to access a large amount of cloud computing power.

Over the course of a relatively short period between October 2017 and February 2018, it is believed that more than $5m worth of computing power was stolen.

The statement shared by the Attorney’s Office reveals the extent of Ho’s alleged crimes – and details how he was at one stage a top customer of AWS.

“Ho used the fraudulently obtained computing power to mine cryptocurrency – a resource-intensive process by which ‘miners’ essentially compete to verify blockchain transactions and receive an amount of cryptocurrency in return”, the statement alleges.

“Ho then used the cryptocurrency or exchanged it for traditional funds on various marketplace websites. In the few months his scheme remained active, Ho consumed more than $5 million in unpaid cloud computing services with his mining operation and, for a brief period, was one of Amazon Web Services (AWS) largest consumers of data usage by volume.”

He faces a charge of wire fraud, which could lead to a sentence of 20 years in prison if he is found guilty.

He also faces a charge of access device fraud, which could lead to a sentence of a decade in jail.

A further charge of aggravated identity theft is also on the cards.